I love a good post apocalypse or disaster film and why settle for one apocalyptic event when you can have five of them one after the other all in one movie? The 5th Wave see’s humanity on the brink of extinction when aliens arrive and inflict waves of catastrophes; electromagnetic pulses, earthquakes, tsunamis, disease and a final alien infiltration of surviving communities to mop up the last remnants of humanity.
Ohio teenager Cassie Sullivan (Chloe Grace Moretz), is the protagonist of the story. Her suburban cocoon and teenage life style is shattered when the Aliens arrive in a large ship that hovers ominously overhead. The Aliens become known as “The Others” and eventually they make their intentions clear when they hit the earth with waves of disasters. The first one being an EMP pulse that knocks out all electrical equipment. Traffic comes to a halt. Planes fall out of the sky. The film whizzes through waves 2,3 and 4 and then spends most of the time in the 5th and final wave.
The 5th Wave feels like its pieced together from a handful of post apocalypse and teen romance movies and slapped together in a way that provides nothing particularly new or original. Cassie must save her kid brother, along the way she meets a “hunk” that will rescue her a couple of times, and there’s also a bunch of kids recruited by an army. Adult lines pour from teenagers mouths making the dialogue forced and ridiculous. Sorry but no teenager speaks like that and its hard to imagine that even an intelligent young adult would be convinced.
The cast do a valiant job in their performances but the odds are stacked against them with the film feeling so damn contrived. Cassie has a perfect cheerleader blowwave which holds together really well through several catastrophic events. There’s a love triangle where Cassie is torn between two heart throbs; her pre-apocalypse high school crush, and a new bad boy alien hunk. Its a cash in and recreation of a Bella, Edward and Jacob romance story in a different setting which ultimately sets up the new screen-teen heartthrobs for an epic cliche/fail.
Possibly the most interesting side character is a tough talking goth chick with some good one liners but with such excessive makeup it leaves me wondering where she gets and has time to apply that much eye liner in an alien invasion.
Half way through the film I went to get a coffee. I took a guess at what I’d miss (the romance scene was coming). I timed it perfectly to return at the moment where the action and gun fire begins. The film is so formulaic you could literally set your watch by the plot points.
There were a few moments in the film where I felt a flicker of hope. Perhaps there was an opportunity for some genuine tension. Losing your family and being alone in the forests with aliens running around is a terrifying predicament but those moments were fleeting as the audience was spoon fed the next piece of a perfected and soulless plot.
The 5th Wave was adapted from the first book of Rick Yancy’s young adult trilogy. Which means that there’s potentially another two films on the way. Hopefully the next one will redeem this franchise by bringing audiences something a little more gritty and less predictable. Not to mention less teddy bear shots. Am I too harsh?